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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Free Agent Forecast: Week 14
Paul Sandy
December 6, 2011
 
SYMBOL LEGEND
Rockstar Rock Star Free Agent
Injury Injury Replacement
Worth a Look Worth a Look
1 Week Plug & Play 1 Week Plug & Play
Sleeper Sleeper
Free Agent Auction
Bid (FAAB) Scale
$ $0 - $5
$$ $6 - $15
$$$ $16 - $25
$$$$ $26 - $40
$$$$$ $41+
Based on $100 cap,
12-team league.

QUARTERBACKS

Commonly owned  QBs worth adding: Tim Tebow (90%) and Alex Smith (72%)

Christian Ponder, Vikings
Rock StarPonder passed for 381 yards and three scores against the Broncos. He now has six touchdowns in his last three outings. With matchups against the Lions, Saints and Redskins to close out the season, he’s not a bad option to have on your bench. In particular, the next two games have the potential to be shootouts that will require Ponder to throw 40+ passes. Look for him to post top 12 fantasy numbers for the next couple weeks and consider using him as a low-end QB1 in deep leagues. Ponder did suffer a hip pointer Sunday so check his status.

Availability: Owned in ~31% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Ponder will continue to post servicable numbers with favorable matchups over the next two games.

Matt Moore, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookOn Sunday against the Raiders, Moore’s modest passing numbers (162-1) were buoyed by 22 rushing yards and a touchdown). It doesn’t really matter how he’s been getting it done; Moore has been a solid fantasy contributor in four of the last five games. With a juicy upcoming schedule, Moore is a QB you can trust for your fantasy playoffs if your regular QB got hurt earlier in the year. He will face a banged up Eagles defense this week followed by the Bills and Patriots.

Availability: Owned in ~42% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Moore is proving to be a legitimate fantasy QB and should continue to be productive for the remainder of the year.

Rex Grossman, Redskins
1 Week Plug & PlayGrossman had a rough go of it Sunday against the Jets. He completed just 19 of 46 passes with no touchdowns, and he ended the game with a costly fumble. That’s life on the Rex rollercoaster. Look for him to bounce back in Week 14 against the Patriots. New England has allowed the most fantasy points to QBs this season. It may not be the prettiest effort, but Grossman should post a useful stat line.

Availability: Owned in ~20% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Consider starting Grossman as a high-risk, high-reward Week 13 tosser.

RUNNING BACKS

Commonly owned RBs worth adding: Maurice Morris (76%), Roy Helu (91%), C.J. Spiller (89%) and Daniel Thomas (79%)

Marion Barber, Bears
Injury ReplacementBears starter Matt Forte went down with a sprained MCL in Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs. He is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. Marion Barber will take over as lead back for Chicago. With an upcoming game against the Broncos, Barber is RB2 material. Denver is merely average against the run, allowing 121.3 rush yards per game. Barber has looked rejuvenated at times this season. He’s shown that angry running style that made him so effective in Dallas. With few breakout players in Week 13, Barber should be the top waiver target in many leagues this week. Also look at Kahlil Bell, who will get the third-down work and could factor into the PPR discussion with 10-12 touches per game.

Availability: Owned in ~64% of leagues.
FAAB: $$-$$$
Forecast: Barber is a must-grab in the leagues in which he’s available.

Toby Gerhart, Vikings
Rock StarGerhart, who is still surprisingly available in over 45% of leagues, racked up 133 yards of offense in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. No one will confuse him for Adrian Peterson but Gerhart can be a useful fantasy RB if he continues to get this many touches. Monitor the progress of Peterson this week. There have been conflicting reports on his availability for Sunday’s game against the Lions. If Gerhart starts, he’s an acceptable RB2 or flex option.

Availability: Owned in ~54% of leagues.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Gerhart figures to get 20 touches and post useful numbers this week if AP sits.

Brandon Saine and Ryan Grant, Packers
Injury ReplacementPackers starter James Starks left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. With the Packers sitting pretty at 12-0, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them shut him down for a couple weeks to make sure he’s fully healthy for the postseason. Ryan Grant and Brandon Saine will pick up the slack—expect a 50/50 split. Green Bay’s rushing attack has been a bust this season. John Kuhn is the most consistent fantasy producer. That said, it’s December. Three of Green Bay’s last four games will be at Lambeau in potentially bad weather, which means the run game could take on added importance. The Forecast likes Saine’s upside and breakout potential. He’s a worthwhile sleeper pickup who could provide an unexpected surge like Starks did in 2010. Grant is a known commodity and a “safer” option, but one with a lower ceiling.

Availability: Owned in ~1% and ~59% of leagues, respectively.
FAAB: $-$$
Forecast: Look for Saine and Grant to split carries this week against the Raiders.

Donald Brown, Colts
Worth a LookFantasy owners have been hesitant to trust Brown this season but he has put up serviceable fantasy numbers for the last two months. In Week 13 against the Patriots, he delivered 56 total yards and a touchdown. Brown has now scored or amassed 70+ yards in four of the last five games. Although Joseph Addai is technically the starter, the depth chart gives a false impression. Brown is the lead back and will continue to be the lead back for as long as Addai’s hamstring is less than 100%. Add Brown for bench depth and don’t be bashful about using him when the matchup is favorable (i.e. Week 15 vs. Tennessee).

Availability: Owned in ~57% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Brown is worth owning but he should be on your bench versus Baltimore this week.

Ricky Williams, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayOn Sunday against the Browns, Baltimore took to the ground, rushing the ball 52 times. Backup Ricky Williams accounted for 16 of those carries, netting 76 yards and a touchdown. The formula worked so well against the Browns that it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the Ravens deploy a similar gameplan against the Colts. Indianapolis is nearly as bad against the run as the Browns. If you’re desperate for RB help, you could take a flier on Williams and hope for some junk-time production.

Availability: Owned in ~26% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Take a flier on Williams this week against the Colts.

Montario Hardesty, Browns
Injury ReplacementHardesty was active for Sunday’s game against the Ravens but he was absent from the boxscore. The team apparently wanted to make sure his calf was fully healed. With Peyton Hillis getting nicked up again (this time with a hip injury), Hardesty might be given the starting nod in Week 14 against the Steelers. Although the matchup this week is ugly, Hardesty is still worth adding for RB depth. He could be useful as a flex or low-end RB2 in Week 15 against the Cardinals.

Availability: Owned in ~38% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Add Hardesty for depth in leagues with 12 or more teams.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Commonly owned WRs worth adding: Lance Moore (78%), Pierre Garcon (83%) Reggie Wayne (88%) and Michael Crabtree (73%)

Malcom Floyd, Chargers
Rock StarLast week’s sleeper pickup recommendation was a beast on Monday night, recording 100+ yards and a touchdown. When healthy, Floyd is everything you’d want in a WR3. He provides explosive plays and has the potential to put up huge numbers regardless of the opponent. Get him some work this week against the Bills. Buffalo has allowed 21 passing touchdowns, tied for fifth most in the NFL.

Availability: Owned in ~45% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Floyd is worth acquiring and starting in all leagues if he comes out of Monday’s game healthy.

Riley Cooper, Eagles
Worth a LookWith Jeremy Maclin injured and DeSean Jackson pouting, Riley Cooper has become Philadelphia’s top receiver. Cooper has put up 70+ yards in three straight games. He notched a season-high five receptions for 94 yards last Thursday against the Seahawks. QB Vince Young threw his way ten times—twice as many as any other Eagles WR. Even with Michael Vick expected to return to action this week, Cooper remains a viable WR3 against the Dolphins. Miami allows 248.9 passing yards per game.

Availability: Owned in ~15% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Cooper is worth a look as a WR3 or WR4 this week against Miami.

Raiders Wideouts
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookAlthough Oakland’s passing game was contained by Miami on Sunday, the Raiders should post better numbers in Week 14 against Green Bay. The Packers rank second to last in pass defense, allowing 292.8 yards per game. They’ve been especially vulnerable to explosive plays, which is the specialty of the Raiders. Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford have both missed the last few games with foot injuries but early reports suggest both will play on Sunday. If available, grab Moore, Ford or Darrius Heyward-Bey for a sneaky spot start. Look for at least two touchdowns and solid yardage between the three of them.

Availability: Owned in ~26-81% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Start an Oakland wideout for some boom-or-bust production this week.

Damian Williams, Titans
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookIn Sunday’s win over the Bills, Tennessee was not forced to throw much. QB Matt Hasselbeck only attempted 25 passes but seven of them were headed in the direction of Damian Williams, who ended the day with four catches for 62 yards. During the game No. 1 wideout Nate Washington suffered an ankle injury. Washington is expected to play this week but it wouldn’t be a shocker to see Williams lead the team in targets again this week against the Saints, who aren’t very good at stopping opposing WRs. Consider Williams a crafty WR3 play.

Availability: Owned in ~46% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: With Nate Washington ailing, Williams merits starting consideration in deep leagues.

Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate, Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlayIn Week 12, Seahawks No. 1 WR Sidney Rice went down for the year with a concussion. As a result, Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate were asked to step up last Thursday against Philadelphia. Baldwin flopped, catching just one pass for 21 yards. Tate fared much better posting 47 yards and a touchdown. Both wideouts merit a pickup this week in advance of Monday night’s game against the Rams. St. Louis has been one of the ten most generous teams when it comes to WR scoring. Baldwin and Tate are worth a look as plug-and-play options in deep leagues.

Availability: Owned in ~23% and ~1% of leagues, respectively.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Exploit a favorable matchup against the Rams with either Baldwin or Tate.

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
Worth a LookThomas is a tease. An all-or-nothing enigma. The Forecast loves his potential but his body of work to date screams “buyer beware.” He put up 144 yards and two scores on the Vikings in Week 13. With numbers like that, Thomas certainly deserves a close look. Just understand that starting him would be a foolhardy move unless he shows something again this week against the Bears. Stash him on your bench with an eye toward potentially being able to exploit Denver’s favorable matchups Weeks 15-16 (New England and Buffalo).

Availability: Owned in ~7% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Thomas’ nice schedule at the end of the year makes him worth a grab-and-stash pickup.

Devin Aromashodu, Vikings
Worth a LookAromashodu collected six receptions for 90 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. With fellow WR Michael Jenkins out for the year, Aromashodu will continue to be a factor in Minnesota’s offense. QB Christian Ponder threw his way 15 times in the game. Favorable upcoming matchups against the Lions and Saints make Aromashodu and enticing pickup. However, starting him right away would be an epic gamble, especially for owners whose postseason begins this week.

Availability: Owned in ~1% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Pick up Aromashodu and see if he can stay hot enough to use at some point.

Andre Roberts, Cardinals
Worth a LookRoberts is a Cowboy killer. After posting 110 yards and a touchdown against Dallas last season, he followed it up with 111 yards against them on Sunday. The two performances represent the only 100-yard efforts in Robert’s NFL career. It would be easy enough to write him off as a fluke but he seemed to show good chemistry with QB Kevin Kolb and found a way to get open on intermediate routes. He’s worth a look in deep leagues. That said, he’s a risky starting option this week against the 49ers.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Roberts is worth a speculative pickup in deep leagues.

TIGHT ENDS

Commonly owned TEs worth adding: Kellen Winslow (76%)

Ed Dickson, Ravens
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookWashington TE Fred Davis will reportedly be suspended for the final four games of the season, which is going to send many owners scrambling for TE help. If you’re a Davis owner and the waiver wire has been picked over for TEs, start your search with Ravens TE Ed Dickson. Dickson has been hard to figure out in 2011, posting big stats one week then nothing the next. However, a favorable tilt of games to close out the year makes Dickson a worthwhile pickup. He’ll face the Colts followed by the Chargers. Dickson remains an important piece of Baltimore’s passing offense. QB Joe Flacco only completed ten passes in Week 13 but three of them were to Dickson for a team-high 47 yards.

Availability: Owned in ~41% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: With a matchup against the Colts, Dickson is a viable replacement for Fred Davis.

Anthony Fasano, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayWorth a LookThe Dolphins turnaround this season has coincided with a turnaround from TE Anthony Fasano. He has put up at least 60 yards or a touchdown in four of Miami’s last five games. He also leads the team in receiving touchdowns with four. Although Fasano is more of an old-school TE and not nearly as athletic as the new crop of players at this position, he gets the job done. Fantasy owners can expect him to post a weekly average of at least 40 yards with a decent chance for a touchdown. That includes this week’s game against the Eagles.

Availability: Owned in ~2% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Fasano is a bluecollar TE who finds a way to contribute something for fantasy each week.

Tony Scheffler, Lions
1 Week Plug & PlayThe last time the Lions faced the Vikings, Minnesota ceded 12 receptions to Detroit TEs. Granted, almost all of that production went to Brandon Pettigrew. The point is Matthew Stafford looked to his TEs early and often in their most recent meeting with the Vikes. Tony Scheffer is a much bigger part of the offense today than he was then. Scheffler has at least two receptions in his last six games. He has also scored five touchdowns, second most on the team. Plug and play him if you’re desperate for a TE and hope for a touchdown.

Availability: Owned in ~8% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Start the Scheff this week against the Vikings if you like the matchup.

KICKERS

Commonly owned PKs worth adding: N/A

Rob Bironas, Titans
Rock StarBironas has put up double-digits in three of the last four games. With a favorable remaining schedule, he comes highly recommended. The Titans figure to get him consistent kicking opportunities now that RB Chris Johnson seems to have found his groove. Tennessee faces the Saints this week. New Orleans ranks in the bottom half of the league in terms of preventing kicker points. Bironas should be good for at least eight this week.

Availability: Owned in ~43% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: A favorable slate of games will make Bironas a top fantasy kicker from here on out.

Ryan Longwell, Vikings
1 Week Plug & PlayConsider grabbing Longwell in advance of Sunday’s rematch against the Lions. When these two teams met in Week 3, Longwell connected for 11 points. Detroit’s fading defense has yielded 32.5 points per game over the last four weeks and will once again be without top player Ndamukong Suh. With or without Adrian Peterson, Minnesota’s offense is good enough to move the ball against the Lions. Look for Longwell to go for at least eight points.

Availability: Owned in ~26% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Start Longwell against a defense that’s reeling.

Dan Carpenter, Dolphins
1 Week Plug & PlayAfter a two-week layoff with a groin injury, Carpenter returned to action on Sunday and promptly drilled two field goals and four extra points. His longest kick was from 48 yards. Miami kickers have now scored double-digits in two straight games. Activating Carpenter at home against an Eagles defense that seems ready to quit is not a bad idea. Philadelphia has allowed 69 points in their last two games.

Availability: Owned in ~22% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Carpenter is a solid plug-and play kicker at home against the punchless Eagles.

DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS

Commonly owned DSTs worth adding: New England Patriots (90%)

Denver Broncos
Rock StarIn the last three games, the Broncos defense has recorded nine sacks, five turnovers and two DST touchdowns. With a plus matchup this week against the Caleb Hanie-led Bears, the Broncos are a terrific pickup for fantasy owners lacking pop at the DST position. In the two games since Jay Cutler broke his thumb, Hanie has been sacked 11 times and thrown six interceptions. Denver has a great chance to lead all DSTs in fantasy scoring this week.

Availability: Owned in ~56% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Ride the Broncos in Week 14 against the error-prone Bears.

Seattle Seahawks
1 Week Plug & PlayThe Seahawks defense has dialed up eight sacks, nine turnovers and one touchdown in the last three games. This includes a near-shutdown meeting with the Rams three weeks ago—holding them to just seven points and 185 yards of offense. Seattle will face those same Rams in a rematch on Monday. QB Sam Bradford will likely miss the game. Backup A.J. Feeley fractured the thumb on his throwing hand and is questionable. Regardless of whether it’s Bradford, Feeley or third-stringer Tom Brandstater under center, the Seahawks should find success.

Availability: Owned in ~36% of leagues.
FAAB: $
Forecast: Seattle’s defense is worth a spot start against a banged up Rams offense.


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